Thursday, May 31, 2012

Children of Eng

I wonder if anyone remembers the Children of Eng store in the Harrisburg East Mall back in the seventies.

I was shocked that I could find a reference to it in Google.

Apparently, it still exists (at least nominally, although there is a street address) in Reading, PA.

The Bizapedia listing says it formed in May, 1966.

The owner is listed as May Eng. And there's a Jee Eng listed too.

So I guess they expanded into the Harrisburg East Mall in the early seventies, because I remember being infatuated with the store as a kid.

It was one of the first stores in this city to sell Chinese knick-knacks, bibelots, what-have-you.

But it was also one of the first stores to have a New Age feel, if I'm remembering correctly.

My mom had me back in time and we were rebuilding the Harrisburg Mall into the Harrisburg East Mall in our heads and repopulating the mall with old stores and dead people we knew ( remembering where they worked).

My mother has a prodigious memory.

Her memory puts mine to shame--even for small details from recent times.

But then she was never an alcoholic like I was.

She did have horrible shock therapy in the seventies and doesn't remember large patches of her life before that.

But, oddly enough, thence forward her memory seems to be almost photogenic.

She is eighty-eight, like the piano keys, the constellations.

If I mention a certain meal we had in a restaurant, she'll start casually talking about what I ordered and what we talked about, where we were sat in the restaurant, etc.

I guess this served her well when she was a professional singer, as she said she never had a problem remembering lyrics, even if they were in a foreign language.

And my dad used to joke that she was slow.

That's probably because she only cared to understand the things she cared to understand.

I can appreciate that stance in life.



  1. I just came across your blog entry while Googling "Children of Eng." I worked at one of their first large stores at King of Prussia Plaza in the mid-1970's. I believe they started in Reading, but have been away for decades. I am a member of a Facebook page that had a thread discussing KoP and it came up. Someone posted Mr. Eng's obit.
    I am now just in touch, via Facebook, with a couple of the 'kids.' We're all in our late 50's now. Just thought you might find the update amusing.

  2. Thank you for this! I will go read his obituary. I have fond memories of this store, as it really was "ahead of its time" and spearheading a sort of retailing that has since become prevalent--maybe even ubiquitous. I never visited the KoP store. I find many elements of seventies culture fascinating, but I tend to find the things that didn't make it out of the seventies especially fascinating. I was surprised to see their was an "afterlife" of sorts for the business! Cheers. Bill